Catching Canada is the challenge at women’s hockey worlds

Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin (29) plays with teammate Brianne Jenner (19) against Team USA during the second round of the Rivalry series hockey in Laval, Quebec, Wednesday, February 22, 2023. Celebrate after scoring. Canada begins defending its women’s world hockey title against Switzerland on Wednesday. Canadian Press/Graham Hughes

Troy Ryan doesn’t have much to say about the word “defense.”

The Canadian coach didn’t stress when it came to the aggressive, push-and-push style his team introduced to women’s hockey as it moved beyond the game 57-10 to win gold at 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Although the Canadian is a two-time defending world champion at the IIHF tournament this week, Ryan wouldn’t stress that.

“We don’t want to sit and defend. So on the ice, it’s the same mindset we have,” Ryan said. “Why are we trying to defend anything? We want to win something, right?”

Catching up with Canada, if it can, could be Ryan and his experienced squad’s message to the rest of the globe – especially rivals the US – as they prepare to host the 12-day 10-nation world championships on their home soil. in suburban Toronto on Wednesday.

“We were focused on winning this world title. We didn’t feel any extra pressure because we won a pair,” Ryan said. “Let’s win another game. That’s the mentality.”

If so in a sport Canada and the US have historically dominatedMuch of the burden fell on a young, reconstituted U.S. team to hold off the Canadians.

it’s not easy to say US Sophomore Coach John Wroblewskiwhose team has five players making their world championship debut without captain Kendall Coins Schofield, who will be on leave this year after announcing her pregnancy.

“We have an opportunity to grow the sport here,” Wroblewski said of the roster, which includes 12 skaters who are competing at the collegiate level this season.

“I think that really sets the stage for success in this tournament,” he added. “Whether we can catch Canada in terms of athleticism and our lack of experience at the end of the day will determine our ranking.”

Canada are the favorites, with one player making his national team debut in striker Danielle Serdachny, who spent a collegiate season at Colgate in 39 games. Leading the nation with 70 points in the game.

Otherwise, Canada’s lineup is led by established stars such as Captain Marie-Philip Poulinscoring four gold medals against Team USA at the Olympics and World Games, Sarah Nurse set an Olympic record with 19 points in 2022, while Bryan Jenner scored two goals Canada won 2-1 defeated the United States in last year’s World Championship final.

US striker Hilary Knight isn’t budging as she prepares for her 13th World Championship.

“We’re hungry and we’re ready for whatever obstacles and opportunities come our way,” the 33-year-old said. “I don’t think we’ve seen the best Team USA yet.”

Knight said something similar last summerEarlier, the U.S. beat Canada 5-2 in the heats and lost to Denmark in the final.

For Wroblewski, the loss was a lesson in how tenacious Canada has become when it comes to medals, and he hopes this time around by letting the Americans set the tone earlier with the up-tempo style he introduced question. He’s also counting on getting his corps of relatively new players to cohere and develop as the tournament progresses.

“The teams that can reach the top in these international competitions usually end up winning,” he said. “So we really had to rise up to catch up to (Canada) and jump over them in such a short period of time.”

In addition to Knight, the Americans have several familiar faces, including forwards Alex Carpenter and Amanda Kessel and guard Lee Stecklein. The youth movement is led by linebacker Caroline Harvey, who helped UW win an NCAA championship as a freshman, and Minnesota’s Taylor Heise, who scored a tournament-leading 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists) in his world debut last year. .

The US targets are also young. Despite making her fifth tournament appearance, Nicole Hensley will be supported by Aerin Frankel, who played an interim role last year, and newcomer Abby Levy (Abbey Levy).

Team Canada is led by Ann-Renee Desbiens, who has an 18-0 record at the Olympics and World Championships, and backed by Emerance Maschmeyer (6-2).

Desbiens eagerly awaits revival of Canada-U.S. competition

“We wanted bragging rights,” DeBeans said.

“You always want to beat the best team, play against the best team. They’re the team that gives us the most opposition,” she added, referring to the Americans. “Obviously, we love playing against them, we love beating them, and we’re going to keep doing that.”

The game’s side plot depicted the growing rivalry between the Czech Republic and Finland. The Czechs advanced to Group A after beating Finland 2-1 in extra time in last year’s quarter-finals, and then beat Switzerland to win their first bronze medal in the tournament.

The defeat saw Finland relegated to Group B just three years after the Finns won silver after beating Canada at the 2019 World Championships and losing to the United States on penalties.

“It’s a little angry about it,” Finland coach Jusso Tovola said of the relegation. “That’s not how we want to play. That’s not our level. So we have the strength to do better this time.”

—John Warrow, Associated Press


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